A record number of crèches have been closed in the last nine months, reports Het Laatste Nieuws. The amount of closures is five times higher than all of 2020, and 11 times higher than last year in December.
The move comes as an investigation committee in the Flemish Parliament is aiming to drastically improve the standards against child abuse. The childcare agency of the government is investigating more crèches and childcare centres than before, which is leading to more closures.
A series of violations have been discovered in numerous crèches, in which either dangerous situations have occurred or managers have been unable to comply with regulations for years.
Sixteen crèches have had their permits suspended and are temporarily closed. Some of these suspensions have been necessary due to ongoing judicial investigations.
At the start of September, a baby died from suffocation in a crèche in Eernegem in West Flanders. The Flemish Government suspended the centre's permit a day after the incident.
Suspension or permanent closure
In the meantime, the Flemish Government is investigating whether the centre should still be allowed to operate, or if management should be given time to address the issues.
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In 14 cases, the childcare centres were closed permanently this year.
The nursery in Mariakerky closed after a six-month-old baby died after alleged abuse. But there are many centres where serious incidents had previously taken place. Other cases concerned crèches in which complaints had been made for years and numerous violations were discovered.